DIVA TALK: Rootin' for Ripley, Eder on Tour, Hoty Quotes, Plus News of Buckley, McDonald and More

News   DIVA TALK: Rootin' for Ripley, Eder on Tour, Hoty Quotes, Plus News of Buckley, McDonald and More Hello, diva lovers! Don't forget this Saturday, July 13, is Broadway Barks 4!, where you'll get the chance to see a lot of cute dogs plus a host of your favorite gals, including co-hosts Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore as well as Harriet Harris, Spencer Kayden, Andrea Martin, Phyllis Newman, Kerry O'Malley, Nancy Opel, Louise Pitre, Vanessa Williams and many, many others. The annual fundraiser/adopt-a-thon will be held in New York's Shubert Alley (between 44th and 45th Streets) beginning at 3:30 PM. I'll be there with my crazy miniature dachshund, Gilligan. And, now, here's the diva news. Enjoy!

Hello, diva lovers! Don't forget this Saturday, July 13, is Broadway Barks 4!, where you'll get the chance to see a lot of cute dogs plus a host of your favorite gals, including co-hosts Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore as well as Harriet Harris, Spencer Kayden, Andrea Martin, Phyllis Newman, Kerry O'Malley, Nancy Opel, Louise Pitre, Vanessa Williams and many, many others. The annual fundraiser/adopt-a-thon will be held in New York's Shubert Alley (between 44th and 45th Streets) beginning at 3:30 PM. I'll be there with my crazy miniature dachshund, Gilligan. And, now, here's the diva news. Enjoy!

LITTLE SHOP THOUGHTS:
One of the shows I'm most excited about for the 2003 season is the revival (actually, it will mark the show's Broadway premiere) of the Off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors. I remember seeing the show back in high school — a group of friends bought me tickets for my 17th birthday — and being totally entranced by the comic, melodic tale of a downtown flower shop and its array of kooky characters. It was already late in the musical's run, so I didn't get to see Ellen Greene's much-heralded performance, although the singer actress did get to repeat the role on film opposite Rick Moranis' Seymour (I remember thinking at the time that Bernadette Peters — who had just scored back-to-back hits in Sunday in the Park with George and Song & Dance — would have been a great screen Audrey, but it was nice that the original star did get to preserve her role on screen, a rarity in the world of Hollywood). Recently, on my way back to NYC after a Fourth of July weekend in New Jersey, I had lots of time (well, a two-hour bus ride anyway) to think about who I'd like to see cast in the upcoming production. So, here goes: My top pick for Audrey — who gets to sing the show's best-known tune, "Suddenly Seymour" (a duet with Seymour) and the touching ballad "Somewhere That's Green" — would be Alice Ripley. Audrey needs to be a bit ditzy, vulnerable, somewhat of a beauty, comedic and a great belter. Onstage Ripley can be all that and more. She fully explored the angst and somewhat ditzy nature of her character in the recent Kennedy Center production of Company; her vulnerability was never more evident than in Side Show, where she played conjoined twin Violet Hilton; she looked ravishing in the brief run of King David at the New Amsterdam Theatre; she displayed her flair for comedy in her Rocky Horror Show performance; and she possesses one of the most exciting belts of her generation. It would be a thrill to hear her sing "Suddenly Seymour," "Somewhere That's Green" as well as the rest of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman's wonderful score. As for Seymour, I can think of no better choice than the Tony-winning star of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Roger Bart. Bart's TV career — he recently left The Producers to begin filming the new CBS sitcom "Bram and Alice" — might interfere with another Broadway gig, but we can only hope. E-mail me, and let me know your Little Shop picks! (By the way, a recent casting notice reveals that Little Shop will have an out of-town run at the Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, FL, from March 5, 2003, to April 13, 2003. Broadway previews — originally targeted for Jan. 2003 — are now slated to begin on July 22, 2003, and the official opening at a Broadway theatre to be announced is scheduled for Aug. 14, 2003.)

LINDA EDER
Speaking of great belters, I hope you caught Linda Eder's sublime performance on last week's Fourth of July special, where she sang one of her new signature tunes, "If I Had My Way." Eder, who made her Broadway debut in hubby's Frank Wildhorn's musical, Jekyll & Hyde, recently released a host of new concert dates. The list includes a weekend in Provincetown at the end of this month. Eder will play Provincetown's Town Hall (on Commercial Street) on July 27 and 28 at 8 PM; tickets are priced between $85 and $125 and can be purchased by calling (866) 468-7619 or at www.ticketweb.com. A complete list of the singer's appearances through Jan. 4, 2003 follow:

July 13, 14 at the Westbury Music Fair in Westbury, NY
July 27 & 28 at the Provincetown Town Hall in Provincetown, MA
Aug. 15 at Pier 62 (with Burt Bacharach) in Seattle, WA
Aug. 16 at City Lights Amphitheatre (with Burt Bacharach) in Denver, CO
Aug. 17 at the Mountain Winery (with Burt Bacharach) in Saratoga, CA
Sept. 19 at Humphrey's By the Bay in San Diego, CA
Sept. 21 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
Oct. 25 & 26 at the Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC
Nov. 1 & 3 at the Kimmel Theatre in the Verizon Center (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 2 at the War Memorial (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Trenton, NJ
Dec. 1 at the Bass Hall in Austin, TX
Dec. 20 & 21 at the Symphony Hall (with Atlanta Symphony) in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 3 & 4 at the Meyeroff Hall (with Baltimore Symphony) in Baltimore, MD

DEE HOTY
Three-time Tony nominee Dee Hoty — The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Footloose — currently stars as Donna in one of the two national tours of the hit ABBA musical Mamma Mia! Writer Sheryl Flatow recently spoke with the talented actress for an upcoming article in the August subscription issue of Playbill Magazine. What follows are two interesting quotes that didn't make it to the final article. Singer or actress?:
"I don’t think of myself as a singer. I don’t think of myself as anything but what I started out in life to be, which is a regional theatre actress playing the queen for six weeks and the maid for six weeks. I thought the best thing in the world would be to be able to work steadily and be thought of as good. That to me was the ultimate. But then I met some people from New York, who came to the Cleveland Playhouse where I was an apprentice. They all said, 'You have to go to New York.' And that called to me. The truth is I couldn't get arrested to do any musicals when I came to New York from Cleveland, because I didn't have any musicals on my resume."

About seeing Louise Pitre's performance on Broadway (Pitre plays Donna in the NYC company):
"Louise has a great rock-and-roll sound. She's got that Janis Joplin thing going. I have more of a legitimate Broadway voice. I said, 'I can’t sing like that. If that's the sound you want, you've got the wrong girl.' And I was told, 'No, no, we hired you for the way you sound.' There's not a lot of vibrato in pop music, so I learned some technical tricks, a way of hitting the pitch without the air coming through, with no vibrato, and then letting loose. That's what those pop singers do who are still singing 40 years later. They hit a tone and then let it go. It's a healthier way of singing. It’s a way of getting through 90,000 songs a night, eight times a week."

IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK The one and-only Betty Buckley will perform at New York's Feinstein's at the Regency this fall. The Tony-winning actress singer will bring her eclectic repertoire of show tunes, country songs, pop favorites and traditional standards to the New York boite from Oct. 22 through Nov. 9. The fall season also includes Darlene Love and Freda Payne in Love & Payne (Sept. 17 Oct. 5), Ann Hampton Callaway (Oct. 8-19), Kathie Lee Gifford (Nov. 12-13) and Michael Feinstein (Nov. 25-Dec. 28). Feinstein's at the Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street; call (212) 339-4095 for reservations . . . Three-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will perform in concert at the Ravinia Festival on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 8 PM. Featuring the Ravinia Festival Orchestra with Ted Sperling as conductor, McDonald's concert will feature songs from her theatre outings as well as tunes from her three solo recordings, including her soon-to-be-released Big Band disc, "Happy Songs." McDonald will play the Ravinia Festival's 3,300 seat Pavilion Theatre, which is located in Highland Park, IL. Tickets range from $10 (lawn seats) to $40 and may be purchased by calling the theatre's box office at (847) 266-5100. For more information, go to www.ravinia.org . . . Due to popular demand, The North Shore Music Theatre has extended its run of Chicago through Nov. 24. The upcoming production of the Kander and Ebb musical, starring pop icon Deborah Gibson, was originally scheduled to play Oct. 29 through Nov. 17. Once Gibson was announced for the role of Velma Kelly, however, ticket sales increased dramatically . . . Tickets are now on sale for Jennifer Holliday's Oct. 28 Town Hall concert, which is entitled Romance in the Dark. A benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Romance in the Dark is billed as a "celebration of great black Broadway musicals, and will be held at New York's famed Town Hall on West 43rd Street. Conceived by Holliday, the evening will feature songs from such musicals as Ain't Misbehavin'; Bubbling Brown Sugar; Cabin in the Sky; Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope; Dreamgirls; House of Flowers; Inner City; Jamaica; Jelly's Last Jam; Once On This Island; Purlie; Raisin; St. Louis Woman; The Life; The Wiz; and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. Tickets range from $50 (concert only) to $500 (premium orchestra seat, one ticket to Holliday's birthday party, commemorative Playbill signed by Holliday and Benefactor listing in the program). Call (212) 840 0770 for more information or to purchase tickets. Town Hall is located in New York City at 123 West 43rd Street. Showtime is 7:30 PM . . . And, finally, the upcoming Cabaret Series at the Orange County Performing Arts Center boasts an array of Broadway and cabaret favorites. Polly Bergen, who currently dazzles audiences as Fraulein Schneider in the Tony winning Cabaret revival, opens the series on Oct. 1 (through Oct. 5) with her one-woman act, which she debuted to critical acclaim at the aforementioned Feinstein's at the Regency. Singer-actress Donna Murphy will perform in concert beginning Nov. 12. The two-time Tony winner for her work in Passion and The King and I will offer a host of theatre and jazz tunes through Nov. 16. Christine Ebersole, who just left her Tony-winning role in the hit revival of 42nd Street, will charm cabaretgoers from Jan. 28, 2003, through Feb. 1. And, rounding out the season is cabaret veteran Wesla Whitfield, who brings her jazz stylings to the series beginning Feb. 18 (through Feb. 22). The Orange County Performing Arts Center is located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, CA. The Cabaret Series is held in the Center's Founders Hall. All tickets are priced at $49, and showtime is 7:30 PM. Call (714) 556 2787 for information and to reserve seats.

REMINDERS


Betty Buckley in Concert:
Sept. 20 and 21 in Brisbane, Australia
Sept. 28 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
Oct. 3-6 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 22-Nov. 9 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 16 at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY
Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC


Liz Callaway in Concert
July 14 at the Bradstan Country Hotel's Nancy LaMott Room in White Lake, NY
July 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, NY
August 2 in Stephen Schwartz and Friends in Bethlehem, PA
August 16 & 17 at the Stackner Cabaret Theatre in Milwaukee, WI
September 30 in the Merrily We Roll Along Broadway Reunion Concert in NYC

Barbara Cook in Concert:
Now through Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
July 5 at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts in Long Island
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 2 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 17 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ

Maureen McGovern in Concert:
Aug. 7 at the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival in Salt Lake City, UT
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon in Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20 - 22 Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept 26-29 North Carolina Symphony, Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 American Music Therapy Association Conference in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 2 at the Rialto Center in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 9 at the Landmark Theater in Port Washington, NY
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit, Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL


Bernadette Peters in Concert:
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Sept. 28 at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI
Oct. 5 Sundome Center in Sun City West, AZ
Oct. 24 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, IN
Oct. 26 at the Kleinhans Auditorium in Buffalo, NY

Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!


By Andrew Gans